Ex-Cop Convicted in 'Coldest Case Ever Solved' Appealing
Jack Daniel McCullough insists he didn't kill Maria Ridulph in 1957
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2014 10:40 AM CDT
This July 27, 2011, file photo provided by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in Sycamore, Ill., shows Jack McCullough, of Seattle.   (AP Photo/DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, File)

(Newser) – Jack Daniel McCullough, the ex-cop serving a life sentence for a long-unsolved 1957 Illinois murder, is appealing his 2012 conviction. McCullough, 74, says his mother essentially accused him of Maria Ridulph's murder from the grave—she was sedated and lay dying in a hospital bed when she told McCullough's sisters, "John did it," prompting police to re-open the murder investigation. McCullough's attorneys say her accusation should have been considered hearsay and not disclosed in court; testimony revealed she was "emotionally disturbed," "confused," and at times "basically comatose" when she said it, and McCullough's sisters gave contradicting testimony on what their mother meant when she said "it."

  • McCullough's 80-page appeal also says "nostalgia" is to blame for his guilty verdict in what CNN calls the "coldest case ever solved." "I think the problem with Jack's trial is, it was all emotion-based," says McCullough's stepdaughter. WNIJ has a portion of the brief, which lists the evidence against McCullough as: "personal memories of what occurred 55 years ago; a photo identification made 53 years after the incident; testimony from jailhouse informants; innocuous statements from the defendant; and an improperly admitted and inconclusive statement from the defendant’s mother while on morphine and Haldol just before her death."
  • The star witness in McCullough's trial was Kathy Sigman Chapman, the last person to see Ridulph alive; she never identified McCullough as the stranger who gave her friend a piggyback ride just before her disappearance until 53 years later, and McCullough's appeal says the photo she identified differs from the description of the man she previously gave.
  • His lawyers point out that the judge excluded police and FBI reports from the initial 1957 investigation from current-day testimony, and McCullough was not allowed to present reports from that investigation showing he had been questioned and cleared at the time. The judge also barred a police detective's conclusion in the 1990s that another man, now dead, was the murderer, and prevented McCullough from calling that detective as a witness, the appeal asserts.
In another cold case recently solved, an alleged murderer from 1981 was found 33 years later, living as ... a church deacon.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Apr 23, 2014 6:44 AM CDT
There is a lot more evidence against him than is presented in this article. If I recall, he was a prime suspect at the time and his alibi dissolved after a train ticket was found years later that proved he wasn't where he said he was. I read about the trial when it was happening. I think he has also committed other crimes against children. He has the right to appeal of course, but this article just gives the facts of the appeal.
Apr 22, 2014 4:03 PM CDT
what did she say other than say he did it?
Apr 22, 2014 2:33 PM CDT
Man, in my family, that is called "When the Irish comes out" when a mom rats of her son on her deathbed. What a last act, typical of "confusion to mine enemies" Irish sentiments of a messed up mind, a state well known to Irish families with a good drunk somewhere in the family tree.. Now a good religious person would have asked him to confess his sins so he could join her in heaven.....poor guy, even if he is guilty, he still has to live with his mom ratting him out, so nobody loved him...Given his life since, you'd say it was a one off even if guilty. Messed up no matter which way you come down on the "facts."